Taking the Glum Man at DHL at his word, I decided I'd go with the mighty Parcelf Force and duly made arrangements - online no less - to have the parcel picked up between 10.00 and 15.00 today, for delivery tomorrow before noon.
Cost me £38, including full insurance cover, which I guess is OK enough.
The online facility even allowed me to print off my own despatch label, to be put in an envelope by the driver and clagged on the front of the parcel.
I worry about these things. I was up early so as not to miss the driver's knock. They always knock, as if to demonstrate some secret loathing of doorbells. I paced the floor, picking up odds and ends, putting them back down. I find that when I'm waiting for someone to call, I can't settle on anything that might distract me from the Driver's Knock.
Lunch time rolled around and still no Driver's Knock. I checked the phone to see if somehow, perhaps because I'd been playing Michael McDonald's Motown too loudly, Parcel Force had phoned to tell me some bad news about my collection arrangements. No message. I turned Mr McDonald up again and could now actually hear him.
The weary hours dragged by. I looked out at the collared doves sitting wistfully among the tattered leaves of the cherry tree and sympathised. But I didn't dare feed the birds because experience has taught me that the moment I go out into the garden, there will come a Knock at the door which I will not hear.
I shuffled papers on the table, but couldn't find it in me to concentrate on filing them away. Patsy123 will tut when she calls round later today.
She phoned me just after 3 o'clock. That's 15.00. The time when my window of opportunity for parcel collection closed. I was doing the dishes, on the principle that by not showing my agitation, the forces that move in mysterious ways would remind the Parcel Force Driver of their commitment to me and cause him suddenly to Knock like thunder at the door, the words of apology tumbling from his lips.
"I would just phone them up and complain," said the ever-practical and phone confident Patsy123.
I looked up the number in the Phone Book and gave them a call. "We have changed our number," said a Recording.
I rang the new number. "Choose one of the following five options......, " said another Recording. I chose No.1, Tracking Your Order.
"Hello, said a voice, "I am a Recording but you can talk to me as if I were a real person and I will understand."
I hung up and dialled again, this time going for No.5, All Other Enquiries.
A real human female person answered and we chatted amicably about my problem. She promised to ring the Driver and find out what had gone wrong. True to her word, she rang back about five minutes later to say the Driver could be with me in 15 minutes or at 5 o'clock, whichever I preferred. I said, "Fifteen minutes would be good."
"OK," she said cheerfully, "I'll get him to do that. He must not have noticed the collection times on the documentation."
Well that's OK, isn't it? I mean, the collection times are only for my convenience, after all. I fumed a little. Steamed a little. Paced a little more, watching the clock tick away the 15 minutes.
And then there he was. The Driver had Knocked! And he was so nice and friendly, giving me a little bundle of envelopes in case I might need to send more parcels in the future, that I completely forgot to be surly and stern.
The painting has gone, and I can relax, conscious only dimly of the other commitments I've made to get more artwork done. In the horribly near future.